Owner asking Big Island be zoned 'commercial resort'

LACONIA — The owner of Big Island in Paugus Bay, which is in the residential single family zoning district, has asked the City Council to add the property to the commercial resort district instead.

Of the three islands in Paugus Bay — Plummer, Big and Little — Big is the second largest at 2.9 acres. It sits about 1,200 feet east of the marina at South Down Shores and some 1,500 feet north of Paugus Park Road. Currently there is a three-bedroom seasonal camp of approximately 1,250-square-feet, which was built in 1950, and outhouse and a dock on the island. The camp is served by a dug well that draws water from the lake.

Scott Everett, the founder and president of Supreme Lending, a mortgage lender headquartered in Dallas, Texas, who was raised and still summers in the Lakes Region, purchased the island in 2012 for $725,000. In 2014 he conveyed the island to NH-Big Island Co. with the intention of developing a seasonal camp, owned and operated by a charitable corporation, which he would endow. Since a camp is not a permitted use in the single family family district, Everett applied to the Zoning Board of Adjustment for a variance, but withdrew the request when it met with stiff opposition from mainland residents, particularly property owners on Paugus Park Road.

In applying to rezone the island, attorney Pat Wood, representing Everett, stresses that the limited number of uses permitted in the residential single family district severely restricts the development of the island. He cites the Master Plan, among which is to "review and revise all commercial and industrial zoning districts in the city for appropriateness and for improved possibilities for economic development."

In the single family residential district, single family home, accessory apartment, emergency housing or bed and breakfast would be permitted, but only a residence would be practical. Educational uses are possible but not feasible and would require a special exception as would a limited number of commercial uses.

"There is very limited opportunity for this property to be developed economically as long as it is in the RS district," Wood writes.

However, in the commercial resort district Wood explains that the range of permitted uses would be much greater and include a lodging house, gallery, restaurant, artist's studio, retail store professional office, arts center, conference center and campground. He notes that the island will be served by municipal water and sewer along with electricity, telephone and cable television.

The Zoning Ordinance provides that property owners may petition the City Council to change the boundaries of zoning districts if they represent "50 percent or more of the land area affected by a petition." Since Everett, as the owner of the island, represents 100 percent of the owners of the property that would be affected, he is entitled to present a petition.

The council will consider Everett's request when it meets on Monday, Sept. 12 and within 30 days must determine whether to refer it to the Planning Board. The Planning Board must schedule a public hearing within 30 days of receiving the request and within 90 days of receiving the request must present a recommendation to the council, which then has 60 days to take action.

 

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Gilford Police seek citizen recruits for new program

GILFORD — The Police Department has established a Volunteers in Police Service Program whereby citizens who are interested in assisting the police can volunteer within the department.

Volunteers who wish to bring some of their unique talents and skills to the local police are encouraged to apply.

“What better way to get the community involved,” said Lieutenant Kris Kelley who added there are countless ways citizens can assist the police.

Kelley said a great is retirees who would like offer their skills, people who would like to help with filing and paperwork, and people who can assist the department with its electronic media accounts like Facebook and other marketing tools the police use and just examples of how regular volunteers can help.

“It takes a community to get things done,” Kelley said.

Police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee said the VIPS Program stemmed from the USA Freedom Corps as a way to “build on countless acts of service, sacrifice, and generosity” that followed in the aftermath of 9/11. From the Freedom Corps came the Citizen's Corp which, he said was created to make communities safer, stronger and better prepared to respond in all kinds of emergencies. The Volunteers in Police Service is managed and implemented by the International Association of Chiefs of Police in partnership with the U.S Department of Justice.

Volunteers will be recruited on an ongoing basis consistent with the Town of Gilford's policies regarding equal opportunity and non-discriminatory employment and, if selected, will undergo background and criminal history checks.

Interested people who can contribute a minimum of five hours a month can are asked to submit a cover letter to Lt. Kris Kelley at the Gilford Police Department, 47 Cherry Valley Road, Gilford 03249.

“People give us what they can and the can get something out of it,” said Kelley.

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Defendant asks judge to toss gun found in LPD search of his car

LACONIA — A city police officer testified Friday in Belknap Superior Count that once he found evidence of drug use in the backpack of a man he had arrested on an outstanding warrant, he continued to search the glove box of his car, instead of stopping, as is department policy, and getting a search warrant.

Attorney Wade Howard, who is defending Isaiah Conway on one count of being a felon in possession of a deadly weapon, asked the officer where in the police towing policy was there a clause that said he could start back up a search after finding drug evidence.

"It doesn't," said Patrol Officer Kyle Jepson.

Conway was pulled over by police on Stark Street on April 7 after officers learned at a shift-change meeting that there was a warrant for his arrest.

An officer spotted his car parked at a Union Ave. auto parts store and observed it until a man he knew to be Conway returned to it. Once Conway began driving, the officer radioed to a second officer who stopped the Cadillac on Stark Street, just before the Gilford town line.

When Jepson reached the car, he realized it was parked such that half of the car was in the road and that it would have to be towed. He said in court Thursday he called for a wrecker and began a customary inventory search which is designed identify valuables and personal property to protect the owner of the car.

Jepson said he started in the front passenger compartment and noticed the glove box was broken and was secured through the dash board with a zip tie. He said it wouldn't open.

As he continued searching the rest of the car, Jepson found a backpack in the truck and began to inventory it's contents. He allegedly found a pipe with white residue and seized the entire backpack.

In court yesterday, Harwood asked him if there was a zippered pouch in the backpack as well as the pipe. Jepson said there was but he didn't open it because he was going to apply for a search warrant for the entire backpack, as is consistent with police tow policy.

Jepson said he returned to the glove box and found a screwdriver type object and used it to pry open the glove box "about an inch" so he could try and look inside for additional valuables with his flashlight.

He allegedly saw the dimpled butt of a gun with a Springfield Armory stamp. He ordered the car be towed to the Laconia Police Department and applied for a received a search warrant. During the search, police recovered a fully loaded Springfield Armory .45 caliber weapon with a second, fully loaded magazine and a low-profile holster.

Harwood is seeking to eliminate the discovery of the weapon saying Jepson violated Conway's rights against unlawful search and seizure as well as the department's own inventory search policy as it relates to towing.

He said the Laconia policy says that once evidence of illegal activity is found, the search must stop and the officer must apply for a warrant. In addition, the police states that all compartments within the car or items within it shall be searched unless they are "locked or sealed such that it cannot be opened without causing damage."

Jepson testified that he didn't see that he caused any damage to the zip-tied glove box.

Harwood is asking the court to eliminate the discovery of the gun. He contends that had Jepson not pried open the glove box and seen what he thought was the butt end, he never would have ordered the car towed to the Laconia Police Impound and would have instead seized only the backpack.

He argues that evidence obtained illegally cannot form the basis for a search warrant.

The state argues there was no damage to the glove box and that Jepson was justified in looking in it to see if there were any valuables that belonged to Conway.

Presiding Justice James O'Neill has not as of yet made his ruling.

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